May 29, 2009

Israel army kills Hamas commander in Hebron: BBC

The Palestinian Hamas group says Israeli forces have shot dead a leader of its military wing, Abdul Majid Dudeen, near Hebron in the West Bank. Israeli reports said the militant had been wanted for many years, and was suspected of involvement in at least two bomb attacks against Israeli buses. They said Dudeen had been jailed by Palestinian police but was later freed. Hamas holds control Gaza Strip but the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority holds sway in the West Bank. It condemned the killing as a terrorist attack and said the Palestinian Authority should concentrate on protecting people in the West Bank rather than co-operating with the Israeli occupation.

Obama ‘confident’ on two-state solution: BBC

US President Barack Obama says he is confident that Israel will recognise that a two-state solution is in the best interests of its security. Speaking after White House talks with Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, Mr Obama again urged Israel to freeze settlement expansion. Israel has insisted it will allow existing settlements to expand, despite pressure from Washington.
President Obama also said Palestinians must rein in anti-Israeli violence. For his part, Mr Abbas said he was committed to all obligations under the Mid-East peace plan “roadmap”. However, without a halt to Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank, the Palestinians have said there can be no progress towards peace.
‘Israel’s interests’
Mr Obama said he was a “strong believer in a two-state solution” and believed Israel would recognise that it was in the best interests of its long-term security. He said it was important for all countries, but particularly Arab states, to be supportive of the two-state solution. “I am confident that we can move this forward if all parties are ready to meet their obligations,” he said. Mr Abbas said the need for progress in the stalled process was urgent. He added that “time is of the essence” – a phrase also used by Mr Obama.

Mr. Abbas goes to Washington: The Electronic Intifada

Ali Abunimah,  29 May 2009

If the Oval Office guest list is an indicator, US President Barack Obama is making good on his commitment to try to revive the long-dead Arab-Israeli peace process. On 18 May President Obama received Israel’s new prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu; on 28 May he met with Mahmoud Abbas, leader of the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah. As this process gets under way, the United States — Israel’s main arms supplier, financier and international apologist — faces huge hurdles. It is deeply mistrusted by Palestinians and Arabs generally, and the new administration has not done much to rebuild trust. Obama has, like former US President George W. Bush, expressed support for Palestinian statehood, but he has made no criticisms of Israel’s bombardment of the Gaza Strip — which killed more than 1,400 people last winter, mostly civilians — despite evidence from Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and UN investigators of egregious Israeli war crimes. Nor has he pressured Israel to lift the blockade of Gaza, where 1.5 million Palestinians, the vast majority of whom are refugees, are effectively imprisoned and deprived of basic necessities. Obama has told Netanyahu firmly that Israel must stop building settlements on expropriated Palestinian land in the West Bank, but such words have been uttered by the president’s predecessors. Unless these statements are followed by decisive action — perhaps to limit American subsidies to Israel — there’s no reason to believe the lip service that failed in the past will suddenly be more effective.
On the Palestinian side, Obama is talking to the wrong man: more than half of residents in the Occupied Palestinian Territories do not consider Abbas the “legitimate” president of the Palestinians, according to a March survey by Fafo, a Norwegian research organization. Eighty-seven percent want the Fatah faction, which Abbas heads, to have new leaders. Hamas, by contrast, emerged from Israel’s attack on Gaza with enhanced legitimacy and popularity. That attack was only the latest of numerous efforts to topple the movement following its decisive victory in the 2006 legislative elections. In addition to the Israeli siege, these efforts have included a failed insurgency by Contra-style anti-Hamas militias nominally loyal to Abbas and funded and trained by the United States under the supervision of Lieut. Gen. Keith Dayton. If Obama were serious about making real progress, one of the first things he would do is ditch the Bush-era policy of backing Palestinian puppets and lift the American veto on reconciliation efforts aimed at creating a unified, representative and credible Palestinian leadership.
None of these problems is entirely new, though the challenges, having festered for years, may be tougher to deal with now. Netanyahu did add one obstacle, however, when he came to Washington. In accord with his anticipated strategy of delay, he insisted that Palestinians recognize Israel’s right to exist as a “Jewish state” as a condition of any peace agreement. Obama seemingly endorsed this demand when he said, “It is in US national security interests to assure that Israel’s security as an independent Jewish state is maintained.”

Finnish-Israeli arms trade flouts EU regulations: The Electronic Intifada,

Bruno Jäntti, 27 May 2009

Contrary to the heavily-hyped image according to which the policy output of Finland is even-handed and neutral in the Israel/Palestine conflict, Finland is actually a major arms trading partner with Israel. Recent reports by the Committee of 100 in Finland, Amnesty International, as well as an article in Finland’s biggest newspaper, Helsingin Sanomat, all revealed Finland’s deeply troubling attitude towards the actions of the State of Israel. Since 2002 the value of trade between Finland and Israel in anti-tank guided missiles has been more than 4 million euros. After numerous queries Finland’s Ministry of Defense admitted that Finnish corporation Insta DefSec Inc. had subcontracted this material to Rafael Advanced Defence Systems, a major Israeli weapons manufacturer with ties to Israel’s nuclear programs. Insta has exported more than 200 thermographic cameras and 3,000 parts for the missile’s seeker head, both crucial components of the Spike anti-tank missile (Jarmo Pykälä, “Panssarintorjuntaohjusten osia ydinaseyhtiölle,” Kansan uutiset, 9 April 2009). These dealings made Finland the second largest provider of missile technology to Israel, playing second fiddle only to the United States. Finland is also Israel’s ninth most important supplier of arms and ammunitions, according to Amnesty International. Besides these exports, Finland purchased medium-range missiles from Rafael in 2000 and 2001 for a value of more than 37 million euros. Amnesty International also reports that Patria, a Finnish military contractor, has done service work and tests with Elbit Systems, one of Israel’s biggest military manufacturers. Finnish Defence Forces has also purchased electronics from Israel for at least $21 million since the year 2000 (“Missä soditaan suomalaisilla aseilla,” Suomen Sadankomitea ry, 2009 [PDF]). While there is no direct evidence that Finnish military exports are used by the Israeli army itself, Finland is a major trading partner with companies such as Rafael Advanced Defence Systems and Elbit Systems. These military technology giants, for their part, are at the very core of the illegalities carried out by the Israeli political-military establishment.
The history of weapons trade between Finland and Israel goes back more than half a century. After the Continuation War — the second of the two wars between the Soviet Union and Finland during World War II — Tampella, a Finnish heavy industry and weapons company, restored and stockpiled machinery for manufacturing ammunition. In 1950, this merchandise was shipped to Israel. The same year Tampella sold the license of its mortar model to Israeli arms maker Soltam Systems (Teemu Sainio, Tampellan konepajan aseteollisuus 1932 – 1944 Masters Graduate Thesis in History, University of Tampere, 2003). In order to understand the political and legal implications of the Finnish-Israeli cooperation in military technology, and accordingly in order to determine whether Israel is or is not a legally eligible candidate for arms trade, we need to establish both the nature of Israel’s policies and the legal framework for the arms trade. During its attack last winter on the occupied Gaza Strip, which had already plunged into a humanitarian catastrophe due to Israel’s illegal blockade, the Israeli army inflicted widespread death, injury and devastation. The respected and independent Palestinian Centre for Human Rights reported that 926 Palestinian civilians died in Israel’s attack and 5,303 were injured. Amongst them, 427 children under the age of 16 were killed and 1,890 children were injured. Furthermore, 110 women, 123 old people, 14 doctors and 4 journalists were killed. According to the UN, Israel destroyed 160 schools, 1,500 factories and workshops and 80 percent of the agricultural crops (Margaret Coker “Gaza’s Isolation Slows Rebuilding Efforts,” The Wall Street Journal, 5 February 2009). The BBC reported that 4,000 buildings were destroyed and 20,000 damaged. At least 50,000 Palestinians were left homeless and 400,000 without running water. Knowing that the military technology used by the Israeli army is among the most advanced in the world there can be no doubt that the obliteration of the Gaza’s civil society was fully intentional.
In the light of the above-mentioned statistics alone, Finland’s military trade and research cooperation with Israel clearly violates European Union regulations on arms trade, which Finland has pledged to observe.

In a special undercover report, the BBC has discovered another person who believes in the Two State Solution! President Abbas was joined by President Obama today, so the TSS religion is now including two believers… not every sect gets a 100% increase in one day! Read all about it below, and see the power of belief…

Obama ‘confident’ on two-state solution: BBC

US President Barack Obama says he is confident that Israel will recognise that a two-state solution is in the best interests of its security.
Speaking after White House talks with Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, Mr Obama again urged Israel to freeze settlement expansion.
Israel has insisted it will allow existing settlements to expand, despite pressure from Washington. President Obama also said Palestinians must rein in anti-Israeli violence. For his part, Mr Abbas said he was committed to all obligations under the Mid-East peace plan “roadmap”.
However, without a halt to Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank, the Palestinians have said there can be no progress towards peace.
‘Israel’s interests’. Mr Obama said he was a “strong believer in a two-state solution” and believed Israel would recognise that it was in the best interests of its long-term security. He said it was important for all countries, but particularly Arab states, to be supportive of the two-state solution.  I am confident that we can move this forward if all parties are ready to meet their obligations,” he said.
Mr Abbas said the need for progress in the stalled process was urgent. He added that “time is of the essence” – a phrase also used by Mr Obama.
He said that he had shared ideas with Mr Obama based on the 2003 peace plan and the 2002 Saudi peace plan supported by the Arab league.
Under the US-backed 2003 roadmap to peace, Israel is obliged to end all settlement activity, specifically including natural growth.
The plan also requires the Palestinian Authority to crack down on militants who seek to attack Israelis. President Obama said he had been “very clear” in his meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu last week on the need to “stop settlements”. Mr Netanyahu later said no new settlements would be built but natural growth in existing settlements should be allowed.

Israeli Arabs warn against dangers of ‘racist legislation’: Ha’aretz

The Israeli Arab Higher Monitoring Committee issued an urgent letter to President Shimon Peres, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and to Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin on Saturday, warning of the possible ramifications of recent legislation proposals made by right wing MKs. According to the letters, this legislation could have “grave and existential” consequences for Israel’s Arabs. The committee convened an emergency meeting on Saturday in response to a recent spate of legislation the committee has described as “racist and fascist” and aimed against Israel’s Arab public. The legislation includes a bill to outlaw the mourning of the Nakba, or catastrophe, of the displacement of hundreds of thousands of Arabs from Israel on the day of its establishment. Another bill aims to require anyone who wishes to become an Israeli citizen to take an oath of loyalty to Israel as a “Jewish, Zionist and democratic state.” A third bill, which has already gained initial Knesset approval, aims to make it a crime to publicly deny Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state. Following the emergency meeting, the Higher Arab Monitoring Committee decided to approach international and Arab bodies in regard to the bills, as well as to consider legal action, whether in Israel or abroad, including involving the international court of justice in Hague. Committee Chairman Mohammed Zeidan said that the organization would soon approach foreign ambassadors and diplomats stationed in Israel and ask to meet with them privately and urgently in order to present Israel’s treatment of its Arab population. Zeidan added that the committee also plans to approach Jewish bodies in efforts to enlist their support in the battle against this legislation.

Amnesty: Israel repeatedly breached rules of war in Gaza: Ha’aretz

Amnesty International has accused Israel of repeatedly violating the rules of armed conflict during its recent offensive against Hamas in the Gaza Strip. “Israeli forces repeatedly breached the laws of war, including by carrying out direct attacks on civilians and civilian buildings and attacks targeting Palestinian militants that caused a disproportionate toll among civilians,” the human rights watchdog said in its annual report.
The report states that 1,400 Palestinians were killed in the offensive – including 300 children – and that 5,000 people were wounded. The Israel Defense Forces, however, says 1,166 Palestinians were killed, the vast majority of whom were Hamas militants. The report mentions Israel’s stated goal in the 3-week campaign: The desire to stem rocket and mortar attacks by Palestinian militants on southern Israel. The report goes on to note that three Israeli civilians were killed during the operation, which was in December 2008 and January 2009, in addition to the seven Israeli civilians who were killed by Qassam rockets and other Palestinian attacks launched from Gaza in 2008. According to the report, the hostilities erupted after suffering the consequences of an Israel-led blockade on the Gaza Strip for a year-and-a-half.

“The blockade throttled almost all economic life and led growing numbers of Palestinians to become dependent on international food aid; even terminally ill patients were prevented from leaving to obtain medical care that could not be provided by Gaza’s resource- and medicine-starved hospitals,” Amnesty said. The report also accuses Israeli security forces of destroying many Palestinian homes in the West Bank on the pretext that they were built illegally. Jerusalem-based watchdog NGO Monitor responded to the report by accusing Amnesty International of focusing disproportionately on Israeli policy in Gaza and of not paying enough attention to the cross-border rocket attacks against Israel civilians. The watchdog, headed by Bar Ilan University Professor Gerald Steinberg, added that Amnesty’s biased and disproportionate obsession with Israel reached its peak during the latest conflict in Gaza. According to NGO Monitor, Amnesty International published more than 20 declarations during the Gaza offensive, most of them critical of Israel, even while violations of human rights included a massacre of more than 600 villagers by Ugandan rebels in the Democratic Republic of Congo to which Amnesty devoted minimal attention.

Watch: 10 minute video performance in Hebrew “For the next few wars – Hurray!”

United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict – 25.05.09 Advance Notice of visit to Gaza on 1-5 June 09

This note seeks to inform the public concerning the United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict. It describes the Mission’s composition, mandate and methods of work and provides practical information on how to contact the Mission. It announces its first field visit.
On 3 April 2009, following resolution S-9/1 of the United Nations Human Rights Council (HRC), adopted on 12 January 2009 at the conclusion of the 9th Special Session of the Council, the President of the Human Rights Council established an International Independent Fact Finding Mission with a mandate to “investigate all violations of International Human Rights Law and International Humanitarian Law that might have been committed at any time in the context of the military operations that were conducted in Gaza during the period from 27 December 2008 and 18 January 2009, whether before, during or after.”
In accordance with its mandate, the Mission will focus on relevant violations by all parties in the entire occupied Palestinian territory, including Gaza and the West Bank, and Israel.
The Mission officially started its work on 4 May 2009 and is required to submit its report within three months.
The Mission is headed by Justice Richard Goldstone, former member of the South African Constitutional Court and former Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda. The three other mission members are Professor Christine Chinkin, Professor of International Law at the London School of Economics and Political Science, who was a member of the High Level Fact Finding Mission to Beit Hanoun (2008); Ms. Hina Jilani, Advocate of the Supreme Court of Pakistan and former Special Representative of the Secretary General on Human Rights Defenders, who was a member of the International Commission of Inquiry on Darfur (2004); and Colonel Desmond Travers, a former officer in the Irish Armed Forces and member of the Board of Directors of the Institute for International Criminal Investigations (IICI). As requested by the Human Rights Council, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) has appointed a Secretariat to support and facilitate the work and proceedings of the Fact-Finding Mission.
The Mission intends to visit affected areas of the occupied Palestinian territory, including Gaza and the West Bank, and Southern Israel, and has requested the cooperation of the Government of Israel in this regard. The Mission will conduct its first visit to Gaza between 1 and 5 June 2009. Pending reply from the Government of Israel, the Mission is relying on the cooperation of the Government of Egypt to facilitate entrance to Gaza through Rafah. Subsequent field visits will be announced in due time.

The Mission’s investigation will be based on an independent and impartial analysis of compliance of the parties with their obligations under international human rights and humanitarian law in the context of the recent conflict in Gaza, and on international investigative standards developed by the United Nations.
The Mission intends to consult with a wide range of interlocutors who will include victims and witnesses, Palestinian, Israeli and international NGOs, United Nations and other international organizations, community organizations, human rights defenders, medical and other professionals, legal and military experts, and other sources of reliable information relevant to its mandate, within and outside Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory. The Mission will also seek consultations with relevant authorities.
In the course of its work, the Mission will review reports produced by various organizations and institutions, and will be requesting submissions on matters of fact and law relevant to its inquiry. A separate notice will be issued to call for submissions. The Mission is also planning to hold public hearings on particular issues of concern related to its mandate.
Anyone wishing to make contact with the Mission on any matter relevant to its mandate should do so through the Secretariat, either by email to or by regular mail at the following address in Geneva:
United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict
c/o UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights
Avenue G. Motta 48
UNOG-OHCHR, CH-1211 Geneva 10, Switzerland
Anyone wishing to make contact with the Mission during its visit to Gaza may contact the Mission by telephone at:
(+970) 0597 444 158
(+970) 0597 444 159
Measures are being taken to ensure the careful and safe handling, communication and preservation of the Mission’s records and files. The information collected by the Mission is, and will remain, the property of the United Nations. Wherever necessary, the Mission will take precautionary measures necessary to ensure the safety or protection of victims, witnesses, sources and any other persons cooperating with the Mission.

UN probe of Gaza war to begin next week: Ha’aretz

The United Nations says a team of independent experts mandated to probe alleged war crimes in Israel and Gaza will leave for the Middle East over the weekend. UN spokesman Rolando Gomez says the mission led by veteran prosecutor Richard Goldstone is expected to start its work next week. Gomez told reporters in Geneva Friday that Goldstone has repeatedly asked the Israeli government to cooperate with his mission. Israel said Friday that it will not cooperate with a United Nations team appointed to investigate alleged war crimes committed during its 22-day offensive in Gaza.
“This committee has been instructed to find Israel guilty no matter what and there is no point in cooperating with such a masquerade,” said Foreign Ministry Spokesman Yigal Palmor. Israel and other nations such as Canada have accused the UN Human Rights Council – which mandated the fact-finding mission in a January resolution passed by 33 in favor, one against and 13 abstentions – of overtly singling it out. The resolution which gave the UN team its mandate “is profoundly biased,” Palmor claimed – pointing out it has only ordered a probe only into alleged Israeli violations, while ignoring Hamas, the radical Islamist movement ruling Gaza. Israel launched the December 27 to January 18 offensive in Gaza in response to rocket attacks by Palestinian militants from the coastal salient at its southern towns and villages. Israel has described the probe as intrinsically flawed because it was ordered by the 47-member UN Human Rights Council, which has an anti-Israeli track record. Goldstone has indicated he will attempt to enter Gaza via Egypt if not allowed in through Israel. He also said he wants his team to examine both sides of the January conflict.

You don’t need credentials to bash Israel: TheNational Post

This week, Canada’s largest annual academic conference — the Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences (informally known as “the Learneds”) — meets in Ottawa. Like other academic conferences, this one is intended as a forum for scholars — experts in particular fields — to present the fruits of their research in progress and receive feedback from colleagues. Lay people who glance at the list of sessions are often surprised to see what qualifies as legitimate academic inquiry. This year’s schedule, for example, includes a session entitled “Palestine Solidarity on Campus: The question of boycott.” Five scholars are participating in this roundtable discussion; the session is sponsored in part by the Society for Socialist Studies. Untrained observers might make a few understandable errors about this session. They might expect that the Society for Socialist Studies would consist of academics with a variety of attitudes about socialism, pro and con, who study socialism dispassionately. It isn’t. According to its Web site, it “is dedicated to providing a forum for those who promote a socialist perspective.”
Observers also might assume that this session would present a variety of opinions about the controversial question of the boycott of Israel, the Middle East’s only democracy. It won’t. All the participants are on record as supporting a boycott.
Upon learning this, you might search through the program to see if there will be other sessions dedicated to discussing the boycott of other countries — perhaps those that persecute homosexuals, disenfranchise women or outlaw trade unions. Sorry, you won’t find one.
As a scholar of Jewish history, I know that the scapegoating of Jews has a long and sordid history. In the 21st century it generally takes the form of scapegoating the Jewish state. But there is one aspect of the “Palestine Solidarity on Campus” panel that ought to shock even seasoned veterans of Canadian academia: the utter lack of qualifications of the panellists to speak on the subject at an academic conference.
The panel includes three full-time professors, one contract faculty member and one graduate student, none of whom has academic credentials or expertise in the study of Israel or of the Palestine-Israel conflict. One professor is “the Canadian Auto Workers-Sam Gindin Chair in Social Justice and Democracy,” known for her work on Canadian feminism; another, according to his Web site, “works in the areas of theory, sexuality and labour studies,” all focused on Canada; the third recently edited a book entitled Gendering the Nation-State: Canadian and Comparative Perspectives. The contract faculty member on the panel teaches English as a Second Language. The graduate student has a history of anti-Israel political activism that long predates her current uncompleted studies in a PhD program.
Again, an outsider might conclude that academics have decided that since the border between scholarship and politics is too blurry, academic conferences are now appropriate places for any political activity. But this conclusion would be inaccurate: Imagine what would happen if a group of Catholic academics with no credentials in biology wanted to have a session at the Learneds discussing how to stop stem cell research. Or if a group of conservative academics with no credentials in labour law organized a session on how to outlaw strikes in the public sector in Canada.

Academics pass boycott motion: The Jewish Chronicle

May 28, 2009
Members of the University and College Union defied a warning from their leadership and passed a motion in support of boycotting Israel at their annual congress in Bournemouth. They voted to support “the Palestinian call for a boycott, disinvestment and sanctions campaign”. But the union’s executive had warned that it would be declared null and void following legal advice that the resolution would be unlawful because “it is likely to be viewed… as a call to boycott Israeli academic institutions”. A second motion called for a conference to investigate the “lawful implementation” of a boycott strategy “including an option of institutional boycotts”. The congress also voted to hold a one-day conference on antisemitism, but rejected an amendment calling for an investigation into resignations from the union “apparently in connection with perceptions of institutional antisemitism”.

The Blessed Leonard: The Jewish Chronicle

April 24, 2009
It was only a matter of time before the mad professors of Bricup, the academic boycott group, turned their attention to the proposed visit of Leonard Cohen to Israel in September, and urged him not to stage a concert there.
According to a report in Ha’aretz, Haim Bresheeth, Mike Cushman, Hilary Rose and Jonathan Rosenhead, representing the British Committee for the Universities of Palestine, sought to soften Mr C up by telling him “Your songs have been part of the soundtrack of our lives, like breathing, some of them.” They then went on to warn him: “You will perform in a state whose propaganda services will extract every ounce of mileage from your presence. They will use it to whitewash their war crimes.” Additionally, the Bricup crowd apparently fear that a Cohen show will be attended by Israeli soldiers who are “drinking beer” and “playing backgammon with their mates and going to discotheques.” Goodness, how extraordinarily evil and self-involved. Can’t have that.
I yield to none in my admiration for Leonard Cohen, perhaps the best poet and songwriter of the fabulous triumvirate of Cohen, Dylan, and Paul Simon. Having met him, I think he is more than capable of making up his own mind.  It is worth noting that he flew to Israel in 1973 to perform for Israeli soldiers in the desert. Both he and Israel have moved on since then but I am optimistic that the blessed LC will do the right thing – regardless of the desperate bleatings of Bresheeth and his gang.

Letter published in The Jewish Chronicle, May 15, 2009

BRICUP letter to the Jewish Chronicle
BRICUP letter to the Jewish Chronicle

The never-ending evacuation: Ha’aretz

Maoz Esther is an extremely flexible outpost. In effect, it’s part of the unwritten agreement between the settlers and government. Every time the Americans apply pressure, the police get orders, start moving their equipment, and hundreds of policemen evacuate the tiny outpost. Their lives at risk, they dismantle four tin huts, two tents and one wooden building containing toilets and showers. The next morning, the settlers return to the site, rebuild the tin huts and put the tents back up. The local council restores their electricity and water supply and removes their garbage (even though it’s an illegal outpost). And the settlers wait quietly until the next evacuation. This has happened four times at Maoz Esther, so no one really gets excited. Each side plays its part in the act, aiming to throw dirt in the Americans’ eyes and divert their attention from the construction taking place all over the West Bank. As early as April 2003, when the road map was presented, the Israeli government committed itself to dismantling 22 illegal outposts. So what. It made a commitment. Meanwhile, dozens more outposts have been set up, with a wink from the government, because we know how to con the entire world – and especially ourselves.
At this week’s cabinet meeting, Benjamin Netanyahu said that “we will not set up new settlements.” But in the very same breath he added that “it is not fair not to provide a solution for natural increase.” The best of Israbluff: Every community in the territories occupies a nearby hill or Palestinian agricultural land, builds roads there, sets up houses and calls this “natural increase.”
It’s not a new settlement, it’s a new neighborhood, they say. Even the new immigrants who settle there are considered “natural increase.” The settlers have one aim – to create facts on the ground to render any territorial solution impossible. Not a Palestinian state, not even a state of cantons. They do this in two ways. They’re constantly expanding, building large towns like Ariel and Ma’aleh Adumim deep in Palestinian territory. And they take pains to turn the evacuation of Gush Katif into a never-ending trauma, one with an impossible economic burden that will prevent a much larger evacuation from the West Bank. The settlers’ supporters in the Knesset recently set up a state commission to examine the way the Gush Katif settlers were evicted. The minister who represents them in the government, Habayit Hayehudi’s Daniel Hershkowitz, established a special ministerial committee on the issue. It’s true, they received excellent treatment and giant budgets, but what’s the importance of such facts when you have a clear political agenda?
They made countless demands, and the more they got, the greater their demands, so they could discredit the government and intimidate the politicians. The first budget for their evacuation stood at NIS 3.5 billion, but it grew to NIS 7 billion because of pressures. And we’re talking about a mere 1,751 households. That means the budget allocation for evacuating 25,000 families in the West Bank would be NIS 100 billion – a mighty burden that could act as a deterrent. Defense Minister Ehud Barak has promised to dismantle the 22 illegal outposts “already in the coming weeks.” But anyone listening to him will laugh. He didn’t even evacuate one outpost when he was Ehud Olmert’s defense minister, when he had the prime minister’s full support to do so. Now he’s going to evacuate settlements, under Netanyahu, who actually favors expanding them? The Yesha Council and the settlers themselves, a raucous and aggressive minority, have set our agenda for the past 40 years. They impose their political views forcefully on a majority that bends. Most Israelis favor a two-state solution, but the minority has made such a solution impossible. They plan to fight against the government’s plans to evacuate outposts. They intend to block highways, set up two outposts for every one evacuated, campaign against the prime minister and pressure Yisrael Beiteinu’s Avigdor Lieberman and Shas to fight against the “government of uprooting.” But they don’t really have to make such a great effort, because the dismantling of the settlements is one big act – all for the Americans’ eyes. It’s always possible to keep on evacuating Maoz Esther.

Palestinian Students in Gaza Launch Campaign for the Academic Boycott of Israel

A Call from Palestine
Palestinian Students’ Campaign for the Academic Boycott of Israel (PSCABI)
PSCABI-Gaza, Occupied Palestine
29 May, 2009
“Gaza today has become the test of our indispensable morality and common humanity.”
Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) National Committee, 27 December 2008 Statement
The Palestinian Students’ Campaign for the Academic Boycott of Israel (PSCABI) calls upon freedom-loving students all over the world to stand in solidarity with us by boycotting Israeli academic institutions for their complicity in perpetuating Israel’s illegal military occupation and apartheid system. We note the historic action taken by thousands of courageous students of British and American universities in occupying their campuses in a show of solidarity with the brutally oppressed Palestinian people in Gaza. We also deeply appreciate the decision by Hampshire College to divest from companies profiting from the Israeli occupation. Such pressure on Israel is the most likely to contribute to ending its denial of our rights, including the right to education.
In this regard, we fully endorse the call for boycott issued by the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel, PACBI, in 2004.[i]
We emphasize our endorsement of the BDS call issued by more than 170 Palestinian civil society organizations in July 2005.[ii]
We also support the Call from Gaza issued by a group of civil society organizations in the second week of the Gaza Massacre (Gaza 2009).[iii]
Our goal, as students, is to play a role in promoting the global BDS movement which has gained an unprecedented momentum as a result of the latest genocidal war launched by Israel against the occupied and besieged Gaza Strip. We address our fellow students to take whatever step possible, however small, to stand up for justice, international law and the inalienable rights of the indigenous people of Palestine by applying effective and sustainable pressure on Israel, particularly in the form of BDS, to help put an end to its colonial and racist regime over the Palestinians.
We strongly urge our fellow university students all over the world to:
(1) Support all the efforts aimed at boycotting Israeli academic institutions;
(2) Pressure university administrations to divest from Israel and from companies directly or indirectly supporting the Israeli occupation and apartheid policies;
(3) Promote student union resolutions condemning Israeli violations of international law and human rights and endorsing BDS in any form;
(4) Support the Palestinian student movement directly.
To break the medieval and barbaric Israeli siege of Gaza, people of conscience need to move with a sense of urgency and purpose. Israel must be compelled to pay a heavy price for its war crimes and crimes against humanity through the intensification of the boycott against it and against institutions and corporations complicit in its crimes. As in the anti-apartheid struggle in solidarity with the black majority in South Africa, students concerned about justice and sustainable peace have a moral duty to support our boycott efforts.

Israeli Army closes down the PalFest last night!

PalFest 2009 had its Closing Night last night. Though not without more
trouble from the Israeli army. They closed down the Palestinian National
Theatre in an attempt to stop the event happening. Once again, though, the
festival quickly moved – this time to the British Council – and staged the
event in spite of the military obstruction.

We have two new videos up on the Video Corner:

1. We have a video of the consul general being informed of the theatre’s
2. The day before the group had gone to al-Khalil/Hebron to take workshops
in the morning and see the occupation of the old city. Though its impossible
to show the extent of what’s going on in that city, its the direst and most
important situation to understand in the country.
Watch them here:
And see photos here:
And on the author blogs:, we now
have Carmen Callil writing on day 5. Read it here:

Palfest 2009: Israeli Army Attempts to Shut Down Closing Night

Videos from the festival: Watch on this link!